Brisbane Mum Fights Deportation To Stay With Son, 8
A Filipino woman has gained her first desperate wish - to enjoy Mother's Day with her three children - but is still braced for the fight of her life to keep her family together in Australia.
Brisbane-based Bernadette Romulo is begging Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to save her from deportation, saying she'll be torn away from her eight-year-old son, who cannot go with her.
Giro was born in Australia and cannot leave due to partial custody arrangements with his Filipino-Australian father.
Ms Romulo met with immigration officials on Tuesday afternoon, on the day her bridging visa expired, fearing she and her overseas-born daughters - half-sisters to Giro - would be deported after 11 years living in Australia.
But she was given some renewed hope with another bridging visa extension until May 26.
"I have my fingers crossed but I'm still hanging in the air," she told AAP.
Ms Romulo arrived in Australia in 2006 on a 457 visa with her first husband and two daughters before that marriage failed.
She has lived on a bridging visa since applying for permanent residency in 2012 when her second marriage to Giro's father broke down. Her bid for permanent residency was rejected last December.
Ms Romulo has been waging a social media campaign in a desperate bid to remain in Australia, including a change.org petition that's generated more than 22,000 signatures of support.
The single mother has also produced a tearful video, begging Mr Dutton not to take her son away from her.
"The Family Court said Giro must live with me. But the department of immigration is deporting me. Should I cut myself in half?" she told AAP on Tuesday.
"I don't know what to do. But I'm not going to just give up. Because it's cruel, very cruel. He's only eight."
Mr Dutton's office says he's not handling the case, and the matter is with Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke.
Mr Hawke's office says the case has already been comprehensively assessed by the department and the assistant minister only intervenes in a "relatively small number of cases".
"Child custody matters are beyond the scope of this department and are addressed through the appropriate jurisdiction of family law," the department said in a statement.
Ms Romulo still fears imminent deportation along with her 12- and 13-year-old daughters from her first marriage.
But she said it was a great relief for them all that they can stay together for Mother's Day. Giro had already made his mother a card for Sunday, worried he wouldn't be with her.
"Dear mummy. You have a heart better than a universe and love from Pluto to Venus. You are smarter than Einstein and greatly loveable. You are more important to me than anything else," it reads.
Ms Romulo said her six years of fighting for permanent residency was all about staying together as a family.
"If we get deported, doesn't matter as much, as long as we can keep my son," she said.